Use technology to build trust with your patients

Trust: A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Technology, technology, technology.

It is all we hear.


Let’s change the focus from “technology” to the useful and meaningful processes that technology enables:

  • knowledge
  • sharing
  • communication
  • trust

Technology is only an enabler, much like the social graph. They are tools, they are platforms, and if properly utilized, they may enable “disruption” or transformation. It is the few individuals, and I do mean a few, who know how to utilize these tools and platforms. They are pushing the envelope, producing meaningful, robust change — and gaining the trust of their “followers” along the way.

If patients don’t remember 75% of what a doctor tells them, is a pair of glasses going to change that?

If you are not engaged in shared decision-making, a process which has been proven to lead to “better” choices to suit needs, desires, and lifestyle — is an app going to change that?

The persistent, pervasive, sad realities of our healthcare system

  • Patients are rarely placed in the center of the care episode.
  • Communication among most providers and patients is poor, at best.
  • Comprehension, and retention of information is poor, at best.
  • Healthcare literacy is rarely taken into account when an important discussion takes place.
  • Physicians are now an employed commodity, and may not be in the same practice when you return.

But what it means to be human and innately social has not changed.

At its heart, digital media is about people, it is about relationships, and it is about communication — and trust!

We now live in a collaborative economy enabled by the democratization of information, a social graph that enables sharing, and we have witnessed how “disruptive” the power of pull can be.

When patients search for and find information they deem useful, the author of that information becomes a trusted resource.

When patients can reach out to a provider in a time of need — via a platform or technology they are comfortable with — a trusting relationship emerges.

When patients know their values, desires, goals, and lifestyle have been considered in the decision-making process, they trust the provider who has assisted them throughout the process.

The healthcare system we have lived with for decades was founded on the principle of authority. The doctor spoke, the patient listened.

This doesn’t work very well.

The democratization of information, and the platforms that enable knowledge sharing have all started to level the playing field.  The patient is becoming part of the team — their care team. They are being armed with knowledge (content), data (access to their EMR) and an empowered voice. Are you listening?

Meaningful engagement means to inform, engage, empower, partner with, and support — the patient.


According to the National eHealth Collaborative, 96% of stakeholders say they strongly agree that engaging consumers in their care is critical to transformation. The transformation needs trusted providers.

Are you a trusted provider?  Is that at risk as our healthcare landscape evolves? I propose that it is. I for one do not plan on being a commodity.  I am a physician, a brand, and an educator,  and my “global” practice is mobile and serving the needs of all in search of information.

Howard Luks is an orthopedic surgeon who blogs at his self-titled site, Howard J. Luks, MD.

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